A local organization is making strides to resolve the lead poisoning issue in Cleveland. The Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition, a grassroots organization, talked to Cleveland City Council on August 12. During the committee of the whole and council meeting, Cleveland City Council approved an amendment to an ordinance that will allocate $5 million to the Lead Safe Home Fund. The money in the Lead Safe Home Fund will be used in two ways. First, the Lead Safe Resource Center will provide various services on lead prevention such as resident and landlord education, workforce training on lead safe practices and lead safe certificate navigation. Second, CHN Housing Capital, an affiliate of CHN Housing Partners, will offer grants and forgivable, low-interest loans to property owners so they can receive Lead Safe Certification per the ordinance passed in 2019.
Cleveland City Council approved an amendment to an ordinance that will allocate $5 million to the Lead Safe Home Fund.
Cleveland City Council’s decision to give funds to the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition will address the alarming consequences of lead consumption. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), individuals with long-term exposure to lead can be at risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, reduced fertility and kidney disease. Children are an especially vulnerable population when they are exposed to lead. If they encounter lead, they can experience slowed growth development, hearing and speech issues, and damage to the nervous system and the brain.
Children in Cleveland are greatly impacted by lead exposure. Case Western Reserve University led a 20-year study observing the effects of elevated blood levels in more than 10,000 children. As a result of the study, children with higher elevated blood lead levels will have a 27 percent lower chance to be on track for kindergarten. Consequently, they can suffer from the unfortunate effects of lead exposure into adulthood. The obstacles they could face include:
- A higher chance entering the juvenile justice systems and being incarcerated as adults.
- They are 40 percent more likely to rely on homeless services by age 23.
- Also, by age 23, they are 17 percent more likely to depend on services from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
Lead exposure disproportionately affects Black children more than white children in Cleveland due to housing and neighborhood conditions.
Lead exposure disproportionately affects Black children more than white children in Cleveland due to housing and neighborhood conditions. Black children are more likely to live in environments that have been subjected to redlining, segregation and subprime lending. Taking a geographical lens to where Black children live across Cleveland shows that lead poisoning is one of the facets that factors in to racism being considered a public health crisis. The Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition will help bring lead certification to certain ZIP codes in Cleveland starting March 2021.
The Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition will help bring lead certification to certain ZIP codes in Cleveland starting March 2021.
The Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition has received monetary support from other organizations besides the City of Cleveland. With help from the State of Ohio, Saint Luke’s Foundation, Huntington Bank and others, they have raised almost $20 million in nine months. Even though they have received help from various organizations, other stakeholders should also be involved in their efforts. Cuyahoga County government and the corporate sector would be great partners to help the coalition. If more stakeholders can contribute toward this cause, then the Lead Safe Cleveland Coalition can move closer to its goal to “prevent children and families from being lead poisoned.”